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Waiting in the wings

Federer is still the man to beat says Gerry

Gerry Williams Posted 10th June 2010 view comments

Dust down your racquet, put on your whites and head down to your local tennis court because Wimbledon fortnight is upon us!

Yes that's right the sun is shining, strawberrys and cream are in high demand and while Henman Hill is now a distant memory, spectators will no doubt be making the most of Murray Mound!

And once again this year Sky Sports' very own Gerry Williams will be keeping you up-to-date with all the goings-on from SW19 in his daily blog from Monday.

Federer, Nadal & Murray: the main contenders

Federer, Nadal & Murray: the main contenders

Gerry has been a tennis journalist and commentator for over 40 years and he will be our eyes and ears at this year's tournament.

In his first piece he assesses the main contenders for this year's men's title and those who could cause an upset...

Epic

After yet another epic final at Wimbledon last year between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, I don't believe the men's event can fail to excite this year.

I am constantly being asked if Andy Murray can win Wimbledon this year, and my answer is yes he could, but I wouldn't tip him to.

Gerry Williams
Quotes of the week

Not just because we have a British player in Andy Murray who is obviously in with a chance of winning the tournament, but because there are so many good players.

There are some people who believe we could see a changing of the guard beginning and I feel that could well be the case soon - but not this year.

The usual suspects

Roger Federer: In my opinion Roger Federer is the best tennis player that has ever lived.

I think he could go on for as long as he wants, and he will enter SW19 this year aiming for his seventh Wimbledon Singles title which would equal Pete Sampras' record. So if he needs any other motivation, which he probably doesn't, then that will be one of the things driving him.

That said one of these days Federer will walk onto the court with something bothering him, maybe nothing particularly important, but it will irritate him and he is going to get into a really tough five-set match, he'll get a bad call, he'll have blisters and he will say to himself 'do I really need this anymore?'

And when this happens, and when he begins to lose that little bit of motivation, even the best tennis player in the world will start to become a target and a decline might begin.

Rafael Nadal: He may have already won Wimbledon, and he may well go on to win it again, but I don't see Nadal as a great grass court champion at Wimbledon.

He is possibly the greatest clay court player ever and he has put his knee injuries from last season behind him and is naturally one of the favourites.

His game is all about immense physical exertion, muscle and he has a mind which is as tough as nails.

Having essentially always been a clay court player - the way he has adapted his game to grass over the last couple of years is something which I don't think anyone had expected, including me.

Andy Murray: I think Andy has a real shot at winning Wimbledon this year, but if he doesn't I'm sure he will within the next 10 years.

When you analyse his game he can do absolutely everything. He can hit the top spin with weight, he can volley, he can hit the slice, he can hit it flat and he doesn't have a bad serve either.

He's a terrific tennis player and if I was a coach I would use footage of him to show my players the right way to play shots, especially his drop shot which has become a formidable weapon.

If you were being picky you might ask for a bit more weight on his serve and a slightly better serve-and-volley instinct, but he really is a wonderful player.

My only concern for him at the moment is that he looked worried about his knee at Queen's and not just because he was sporting some blue strapping on it.

It may not be a hindrance physically but it could be mentally if it's playing on his mind. There were a couple of occasions where he played a shot and then immediately grimace and that bothered me a bit.

Novak Djokovic:As I mentioned before there are some people who are talking about a changing of the guard and Novak Djokovic is amongst a list of players who could precipitate that.

Along with Marin Cilic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Murray, he is a player that can win on grass at the highest level. The only question mark over him would be his physical endurance under the most severe test.

There have been several occasions when he has had to retire and so his fitness is the only concern I have with him.

Marin Cilic:The Croatian is another player who is really good on grass and you wouldn't expect someone to come from his part of the world and be such a natural on it.

I don't think people really realise that some of these players have hardly ever played on grass. At most they will play on it for a couple of weeks leading up to Wimbledon, but you cannot adapt to a completely different surface that quickly.

It is partly a mental issue but it is also very much a technical problem. You need to reduce the swing of your racket because the ball comes through low and shoots and a lot of your shots will be blocking shots.

You must re-model your game to serve and volley, but some people like Cilic and his compatriot Goran Ivaniseviæ are just naturals.

British hope

I am constantly being asked if Andy Murray can win Wimbledon this year, and my answer is yes he could - but I wouldn't tip him to.

I'd expect him to win at least a couple of Grand Slams between now and the end of his career, but he is probably more likely to win the US and Australian Opens because I think hard courts suit him even more than grass.

I also think he has shown by getting to the final of both the US and Australian Opens that when he's away from Wimbledon he's able to be himself a bit more.

Surprise package

If there is going to be a surprise winner I think it might be Andy Roddick. He really should have won Wimbledon by now and I think he's been rather unfortunate in that Roger Federer has been around at the same time as him. His game is ideally suited to Wimbledon grass, he usually plays very well here and as long he still has the drive, which judging by his results he does, he could cause an upset.

Final verdict

So many factors will come into this including luck with the draw, but for me Federer is the best player so it is difficult to look past him.

Comments (5)

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Carrol Van der poel says...

Hi Gerry, I am an ardent fan of Roger's and agree he is the greastest player of all time, and that he proved again yesterday. I give Nadal his due that he too is a good player just not in the same class as Roger who is unique in his game. He plays with class and has perfected his game on grass like no other one has, and to top that all he stays humble in spite of being a great champion and that makes him the sportsman he is. I too would like to see him win Wimbledon this year, although I must admit there are a lot of good guys out there with a lot of determination to take this Grand Slam and wish all of them the best of luck however I will as always and have been doing since he first hit the courts be rooting for Roger.

Posted 07:36 22nd June 2010

Ram Mohan says...

Oh C'mon! Please give more respect to rafa, that a 7-slam champ at his age truly deserves.I mean this is a guy who has hammered roger federer in all the big slam finals(5-2 the record in slam finals including two wins on grass and hard courts).What more does he need to prove! Gerry and many other experrts are just not able to digest the fact that how a clay courter can be so succesful on grass,more successful than their favourite Andy "loser" Murray. Agree that Federer looks more fluent in his play,but please do acknowledge a different style of playing the game,and someone who has been very successful at it!! Go rafa!!

Posted 07:42 21st June 2010

Adam Whiteley says...

if im honest gerry, your a very typical traditional english man, and i think thats why u dont see nadal as a true champion of wimbledon, because federer was defending champion. Nadal has the guts, the game and the know how to undo federer consistantly on all surfaces, as a winning record of 14-7 suggests, just because he has only won it once, it does not mean he isnt a true chamion, i suppose then on that basis federer is not a true champion of the french having only won it once, with yes, you guessed it, nadal thumping him several times in the final and semis.

Posted 18:08 20th June 2010

Abu Yeashah says...

Hey gerry im afraid I disagree with what you say about Nadal not being a true wimbledon champion when he has already won it and got to the final 3 times in a row!

Posted 12:07 19th June 2010

Adeel Bashir says...

Hello gerry, I absolutely agree with you and I do think federer is the best tennis player ever lived I think everybody knows that who follow tennis, and I must say wimbledon is my faviorite Tournament. That being said I think roddick will get quarters or semis this year and think rafael Nadal might go out before the semis or at the semis stage this year, he is a unbeilevable player On every surface and is capable of makin the final of eny major, but for me I think it will be roger federer's Year again , I think he is just too good of Player and especially on grass he is invincible I mean his Records speak for them self so I would also tip federer (goat) to win this year and hopefully I would like to see more times here because we are blessed to have the greatest tennis Champion ever his game is so. Beutiful and has so much natural talent absolutely effortless Which is a joy to watch, I'm a big federer fan and have been for many year And I'm not saying he will win just because I support him but its because I Truly beileve on grass he is always the man to beat, that being said I think Murray always has a good chance becuase his game suits grass and hardcouts, And he will eventually win a major, also shouldn't count out novak has been quiet But has enough talent to make a good run , I wish all of them the best of luck But I'll be rooting for roger federer my all time favorite player, and imsure He can get 20 grand slams or even more by the time he decides to put up his racket And could get 8 or 9 wimbledons, prediction winner federer!

Posted 00:38 19th June 2010

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